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If Only the Neo-Cons had not had their way?
on 13 May 2014
A very readable book which described both internal Russian developments under Putin and foreign relations. In particular there were interesting quotes from the participants of various conferences and one-on-one discussions between western and Russian leaders and from Russian economic policy makers (albeit now all out of favour and office).
The intention of the book seems to have been to convey the message that with more sensitivity to Russian concerns (particular on the part of the Bush administration) things might have been different and Russia might have become a 'responsible' and co-operative member of the 'international community'.
The question which was not raised however throughout the book was that of the possible and in my opinion likely connection between the internal and external developments in Russia. Each was depicted in separate chapters as if Putin, the operator in foreign affairs has no connection with the Putin who, as the book points out is presiding over the descent of Russia into a state of legal nihilism and corruption on a mind-numbing scale. Is it really the case that for instance American intransigence on missile defence in Eastern Europe played more of a role in shaping Russian foreign policy than the type of regime which developed internally Russia or vice-versa could it have been the case that a different relationship of Western governments (actually the Americans) to Russia would have led to Putin retaining his early promise of democratic development? The latter seems unlikely but the matter is never addressed in the book.